This is what it looked like just before I started.
This is what it looked like just before I started.

(Just in case you thought an author’s life was glamorous…NOT.)

Nothing like waking up on a MONDAY before you’ve even finished your first cup of coffee, no less, to realize your house’s ONLY toilet is LEAKING. Oh, from the BOTTOM.

And it’s a sixty+ year-old WOOD-FRAME house.


And yes, it’s the original toilet.

Worse, apparently it’s been leaking for a while. A couple of times over the past few weeks, I thought the bath mat was damp and it was weird, but I didn’t notice anything else (I hadn’t finished redoing the floor in there, and there was a additional layer of OLD linoleum tiles under the layer of linoleum I was covering up, so it seeped down to the wood, not an obvious puddle. (You can see from the picture.)

Yes, that’s epoxy on the tank, because it’s so old there AREN’T tanks that fit it anymore, and ripping it out was neither in the budget, nor was I even sure I could replace it with a modern toilet because I didn’t know what I was dealing with underneath.

Oh, did I mention Sir’s out of town this week on business, and a plumber isn’t in the budget? *head/desk* He was on His way to the airport when I discovered this.

IMG_4029So after I (seriously) took a Xanax to calm me down and stop my crying (I was up until 5am that previous night because I’d been on deadline and drank waaaay too much coffee after a friend’s memorial service that I didn’t want to miss.) I started pulling stuff apart.

Yes, it’s held down by four screws, not flange bolts.

There was no wax ring left to speak of, only some vague remnants of it and a black flange (in pieces). No telling how long it’s been since Grandaddy had put the last one on. I’m guessing based on the caulk stuck to the linoleum at least 20 years or longer.

So the partial demo began. I needed to get it at least functional (did I mention it’s this house’s ONLY toilet??) so it’ll last until this weekend when Sir’s home and can come help me cut out the rotted flooring under it and replace it.
Sir was at the airport getting ready to fly out and I was texting Him pictures for advice on what to do next. He kept telling me to go to Home Depot but there’s a plumbing supply place in town that’s farther, but they know plumbing. We had to go there once before when we redid the shower valves because–sixty+ years old–no one else HAD the guts that would fit inside them and be able to help us figure it out. I was willing to make the drive.

IMG_4043So I took pictures with a tape measure laid out next to everything just to be sure. (I’m no dummy. I can deal with MODERN plumbing issues on my own. I’ve replaced wax rings before…on MODERN toilets. I could not disassemble this toilet because 1 – the tank’s fragile, and 2 – I was afraid if I disassembled the toilet and broke the tank or couldn’t get seals for it, I’d still be screwed.) They guy at the pluming house (It’s Buck’s, by the way, if you’re in the Tampa area, they’re FANTASTIC.) was able to give me advice.I stopped by a Lowe’s on the way home, just in case, to look at toilets and get measurements on rough-in size. The average is 12″ from the wall, but I wasn’t sure where they based that on. After I get home the first time, I realized (because, dummy me, I didn’t take a picture of the underside of the toilet the first time around) that I needed that flange to be sure.



Sir, about to board the plane, told me to go to Home Depot. I went back to Buck’s, with even more measurements, to get a wax ring with a flange, and to ask them about the rough-in distance based on my picture. (I found out if worse came to worse they could get me a toilet that would work in a narrower space, but I reeeeeaaaallly didn’t want to have to buy a new toilet because it’s NOT IN THE BUDGET.) The extra dive and fighting with traffic was worth it because THEY KNOW SHIT. Um, no pun intended. But seriously, if you ask them a question, they don’t look at you like you just spoke to them in a foreign language. They actually UNDERSTAND what you mean because they are a PLUMBING supply house. (Hey, my version of #smallbusinessSaturday.)

Read Step 1. Now, carefully look at the tray's color. What's wrong here?
Read Step 1. Now, carefully look at the tray’s color. What’s wrong here?

Back home. More demo starts. And I’m hoping the new closet screws even will hold in the soft wood. (I forbade Sir and my DnD friends to make jokes about “one ring” or “soft wood” or I’d go all TPK on them. If you get what that means…you and I should probably be friends.)

IMG_4048Hubby had helped me get the old toilet moved. Fortunately, we didn’t hurt ourselves or it in the process. (The fucker’s heavy, especially with the tank on it.) After more peeling up of old linoleum, I finally took a deep breath and we got the toilet put back in place. (It’s a tiny bathroom, too, fyi.)

After we GENTLY twisted it a little bit, I had him sit on it while I (tried) to get the closet screws in place. Ended up having to tap on the cap nuts with a hammer to get them to start, then used a ratchet to get them in. Took forever, and they’re not straight or very secure. But when I test-flushed it…no leakage. (YAY! Who knew such small victories were so satisfying?)

Hopefully it holds until this weekend when we can do a better repair (and I’ll be biting the bullet to put a new toilet in.)

As long as it doesn’t go through the floor by then or start leaking again.

Huge shout-out to my peeps in the Trybe for letting me vent, and especially to the sweet lady who volunteered her boyfriend to come help me–ironically he was working in the area–but by the time I read that I’d already got it back in and flushing. After we got it back in and working, I FINALLY got my shower. Up to that point (it was now after 6pm) I’d had one cup of coffee, a Xanax, a cheese stick, and two green Gatorades. LOL Hubby fed me dinner and I had another Xanax and collapsed. And my hands are REALLY feeling the pain today. UGH.

I take great comfort in the fact that if the zombie apocalypse does hit, I’ll be the chick Frankensteining shit to make it work. Might not be “right,” and might not be pretty, but at least it’ll make do long enough. (You should see the water heater. LOL)

I hope. LOL (Well, that, and I have firearms, ammo, terrific aim, and a love of make-shift weaponry. LOL)

I’ll post the second part of this once we get it done. (Hopefully this weekend.)

And hopefully you’ll forgive me for shamelessly inserting promo at the bottom of this post. Please buy my books. LOL Keep me and Hubby in a flushing toilet and working plumbing! LOL

Tymber’s Latest Releases:
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#homeimprovementhell – It’s HOW old? (part 1)

4 thoughts on “#homeimprovementhell – It’s HOW old? (part 1)

  • December 2, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    I’m sorry you had plumbing problems but your story is so entertaining. We did have plumbing problems yesterday but my hubby went to leave work and the car won’t start and his truck had broke a week ago and sitting in the driveway. So today he went back to work to see about getting the car towed to a shop and get the starter fixed. DAMN Yesterday Sucked. Oh and its frickin cold outside too. was 12 degrees this morning right now its only 23 but the sun is shining.

  • December 2, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Oops We didn’t have plumbing problems only car problems

  • December 2, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Your DIY projects are always a hoot to read about. I sympathize though about not wanting to or can’t afford a new one. A couple of years ago the toilet in our main bathroom died on Christmas eve. So with Jeff’s family coming for Christmas dinner, it was a scramble to clean his room and bathroom enough that I would allow anyone to use that one. At least we had a back up one. So 2 days later, we found a sweet deal on one at Home Depot and replaced the dead one. Lucky me, I was able to get rid of the old 70’s brown one with a nice clean and shiny white one.

    As for buying books, hard to buy yours when I think I have them all so I bought your Hubby’s. It looks interesting and I was planning on checking it out anyway, so just went and got it.

    I hope it holds up until Sir gets back to town.

  • December 2, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Thankyou for sharing so honestly! Gave me a smile this morning 🙂 I too hope that it all holds up until Sir gets back in town otherwise I can imagine life gets awkward. [smile] No plumbing dramas here but we had a roller door on the carport which was not going up nor was it going down. Hubby’s means of getting to work was locked inside. So he made it work! The result was broken cables. My hubby goes to work and is away from home for 5-6 days home for 4 and then off again. Sorry to say I have no “handy-woman” skills, unlike yourself, so I resort to phoning a roll-a-door doctor, who seems to talk a whole new language which I do not understand. All I know is that the RD wont work! Eventually I find one who can come and fix it only to be told the reason it all happened was that the original installer didn’t fit it “square” – now it is and it has new cables and the most amazing thing of all is that the “magic” door opener now works too!

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